Bowen locals rally for Abbott Point expansion green light

More than 600 Bowen locals rallied in support of the Abbot Point coal expansion last night, urging the Federal Government to back the project.

The group gathered in the town to show their support for what has been a contentious issue.

Bruce Hedditch from the Bowen Business Chamber said a green light for the project would give the town a stable future, ABC reported.

"It would be great for Bowen … because it would provide job opportunities," he said.

"With job opportunities comes increased population, it brings to any community increased educational facilities, increased health facilities."

Hedditch said the community needs to the development in order to survive.

"We need this to further cement our economic stability by having a good export facility at Abbot Point," he said.

"If it doesn't go ahead, we're going to be like all other communities in Australia, we're going to be struggling."

Earlier this month the new Federal Environment Minister delayed a decision on the expansion by four weeks, indicating more time was needed to properly assess the project.

Former Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke was set to make a decision on the project on July 9, but that has now been extended by more than a month.

In a statement, new minister Mark Butler said he needs more time to consider the project’s potential impacts.

Butler said a decision could be made before August 9 if he is satisfied with the information presented to him.

The $6.2 billion expansion of the coal port would see four additional coal terminals built; which would provide an extra annual capacity of 120 million tonnes and would support the developments in the Bowen, Surat, and Galilee Basins of Queensland.

Combined with other port expansions, this latest development would make Abbot Point one of the world’s largest coal ports, boasting seven terminals and a capacity of almost 300 million tonnes annually.

Protest around the expansion has been consistent, with environmental groups concerned that dredging at the site will have widespread impacts.

Greenpeace spokeswoman Louise Matthiesson has previously called on the expansion to be dumped.

"It sounds very alarming the amount of mud stirred up by dredging is much greater than what we thought and the dredge plumes are spreading much further than we thought," Matthiesson said.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters has also stated she does not want the expansion to go ahead.

"What's really important is that on the August 9 he says 'no' to this expansion.

"There's a proposal for three million cubic metres of dredging in the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area and then dumping that sea bed right back into marine park waters.

"The sediment doesn't sit where it's placed, it can move."

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